A Talk with ‘Reptil’ Writer Terry Blas about Marvel’s Shelf-Slashing New Series

Let’s admit it, we all went through weird, unexplainable phases as children. Some of us really loved cartoons, some of us collected Pokemon cards, and if you were like me, you were really into dinosaurs. Perhaps even a bit too much into them.

I had dinosaur fever. Toys, t-shirts, posters, even “totally real” fossils I begged my parents to buy at overpriced gift shops; there was no end to my obsession. That is of course, until I got older. Like many things from youth, my love for dinosaurs eventually waned and was replaced by new hobbies and passions. But I’d be lying if I said that there wasn’t still some part of me that still loves the lizard kings of the prehistoric past.

That’s probably the same case for a lot of people. After all, dinosaurs are a timeless form of entertainment, knowledge and wonder. It’s probably why the Jurassic Park/World films did so well (that, and the nearly deity-like status of Jeff Goldblum’s presence across the franchise). And it’s definitely why I’m excited for Marvel’s latest solo series, Reptil.

Reptil takes Humberto Lopez, a Latinx teen hero with dinosaur-specific shape-shifting powers, and finally puts him at the front of his own series! Written by Terry Blas (Hotel Dare, Dead Weight: Murder At Camp Bloom), Reptil will take readers on a journey through the young hero’s personal life as he juggles the responsibilities of a hero with his duties at home. NOC spoke to Blas about the comic, the tiwsts and turns, and the heavy emphasis on community and culture. You can read the interview below!

So Reptil has been a sort of obscure character in Marvel Comics for awhile now. Not exactly as popular as Spider-Man or Captain America. Tell us how you ended up getting the chance to bring Reptil to the forefront?

Blas: I believe my agent was approached because of my book with Claudia Aguirre, Hotel Dare, which is a young adult, Mexican, fantasy adventure. When I heard about the character I was excited and it’s definitely time for a Mexican American hero to be in the forefront!

Is this going to be a relatively easy comic for fans new to Reptil? Haha or should we start dusting off our old Avengers Academy issues? 

There’s a little recap at the beginning of issue #1 to help anyone who isn’t familiar get up to speed. I don’t think you need to know too much about Humberto’s previous stories to understand this one. You can jump right in. 

I’m a huge fan of your graphic novel, Hotel Dare. It’s an adventurous story full of magic, weird portal doors proud Queer and Latinx representation! Can readers of Hotel Dare expect a similar vibe heading into Reptil #1? 

Actually, yeah. I won’t lie. There’s some similarities but I think a lot of things I write will likely be about Latinos, Family, Magic etc. And most of my work skews young but I have noticed that several of my books are also about the relationship between young people and the elderly, much like Hotel Dare and my upcoming book, Lifetime Passes. A big part of Reptil revolves around Beto’s relationship with his abuelo. 

Every hero has his own sense of justice. A moral code you could say. Can you tell us a little about Reptil’s? How and why he operates as a hero?

That’s what the whole comic is about. Humberto (Beto) is struggling with whether or not to be a hero at this moment in his life. And if he does step up, then who is he a hero for? Who does he represent? Hopefully it’s a journey people will enjoy reading.

You can’t be a hero without a villain or two around! Can you give us any details about the opposition Humberto will be facing in his solo series? Whether physical or figurative?

I have to think about what’s been revealed or shown in previews! Well, this bad guy is called Megalith. He has some earth based abilities and he wants Beto’s amulet, the source of his power. Beyond that, I shouldn’t say anything. 

So in the middle of all that Humberto is dealing with, Kamala’s Law is still out there. A polarizing act that basically outlaws younger heroes. How does this law affect Humberto and his relationship with the hero community and his peers?

It affects him greatly. He sees it as an excuse to sort of hang up his hero hat and focus on his family. Help his grandpa. But I think it would be difficult for someone who has powers, and who is a good person, to not use them if someone is in trouble. So that’s where the story sort of begins. 

The emphasis really seems to be on Humberto as a person, beyond just superheroics. Can young Latinx readers expect to see a lot of nods to the community and culture through his story then?

Absolutely. I set the book in LA. There’s some places and events that we see in the book that for me are very Chicanx and or Mexican American. I can’t wait for people to see them. Also, I gave Beto cousins. What young Latinx person doesn’t have a bunch of cousins, you know?

So where is this story taking place in the grander Marvel Comics landscape? I know Marvel has a few things going on right now, including Heroes Reborn. Will Reptil be affected by any of that? 

It sort of happens on it’s own, but in the wake of Kamala’s Law which is sort of on pause right now in the Marvel Universe. It hasn’t quite been repealed yet, but it’s being examined and looked at. Also, there’s a few call backs to things Reptil has experienced before but you’ll have to wait and see what those are. 

Fingers crossed, one day Reptil gets his chance on the big screen. Who could you see in the role should that happen?

I always find these questions hard to answer. Mostly because I want people to picture Humberto in the comic as he is. Or I’d want people to picture him the way they want. But I’d be lying if I didn’t say I’m a big fan of Xolo Maridueña from Cobra Kai and Diego Tinoco from On My Block.

Finally, besides Reptil, what’s another comic book character you’d love to take a crack at?

I think Hummingbird (Maria Aracely Penalba) has a great story worth exploring. Of course I’d love to write something with Wiccan and Hulkling one day. I’m loving the current run of America Chavez, and I really like the new Children of the Atom book as well. Anything X-Men really. I got to write a short for the Marvel Voice Pride book and my story is about Anole and Jonas Graymalkin. I think a book about the two of them being best friends and kicking butt could be really cool. 

You can read Reptil #1 now!